Monday, July 26, 2010

Jealous of the Bloggers

Ok, I'll admit, I'm a bit jealous of all the bloggers out there. I mean really, where do you all find the time? It seems like a luxury to be able to get your thoughts out in writing on a daily or weekly basis. And as you can see from my lame-o kind of blog, I've been a bit lax. Now my facebook friends would disagree because I'm a regular poster over there but that's just blurbs and I can handle blurbs with the best of them. But blogs, your heart and soul, being poured out, not as easy. Somehow I'm always interrupted. As a matter of fact in the last sentence, the middle child ran in and said, mom, can you drive us to the park now? You see? I told you, it's not easy. Five more minutes son, I'm attempting to blog here. Oh, here comes the little one now. He's cute but a handful. So as much as I want to commit to this blog I feel a bit inadequate. I want to be the one that does product samples and promote new ideas and share with the world. But I betcha that's not going to happen until 1) I retire- IN MY DREAMS!!!!, 2) the kids are grown and gone- I'll be in my sixties by then, 3) ah forget three, one and two are the blogging goals. Well blogger land, maybe I'll see ya soon, maybe not. Until then, I've got to go to the park

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Good Old Fashioned Southern Christmas

Christmas time: a time of gentle snowfall, fireplaces with decorated mantles, and the never-ending smell of evergreens. Nothing like the holiday d├ęcor to get everyone feeling that Christmas spirit. But what happens if your Christmas season is less than a wintry wonderland? Well I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of us that don’t have the luxury of the perfect Christmas postcard yet we don’t miss it either. Sure it would be nice to see a few kids making snow angels and carolers wearing their muffs singing at your door. But we Southerners have created our own special traditions, not to be dismissed. First of all, we have the Christmas hayride. That’s right, gathering up a bunch of kids on the back of a trailer full of hay and going on a singing neighborhood tour is good old fashioned family fun. No need for layers and layers of coats and jackets. Maybe a light jacket or depending on the day, even a guayabera would be all we need. But we still appreciate the season. We’ll try to keep it red and green and follow the latest fashion trends. Just no snowman sweaters please!
And you just can’t beat touring our neighborhood light shows. Nothing beats a lit up palm tree with the electronic moving alligator and flamingo display. Despite the tropical flare, Santa and his reindeer still visit down here. And we can put an abundance of lights in places northerners simply can’t. We don’t have to deal with tramping through snow, icicles falling on our heads, or slipping off slick roofs. Well I take that back, we still slip but it’s not because of hard ice but mere clumsiness. And our light displays can be seen from space because we must cover every ounce of the rooftop with an incandescent glow. It’s our answer to snow if merely an electric one. Puts on one heck of a show though.
Ok, no fireplace here but heck can you beat a tree decorated in seashells and starfish? I think not. And yes we still can smell the evergreens in the air. We get our Christmas tree stands too you know. We’re not that primitive after all. We just decorate them in style! No fireplace needed, although I can still hang tinsel on the ceiling fan and let it blow in the breeze when I need to cool down a bit.
Sure you people up north have your turkey. We have ours too, on the grill, mmmmm. We can still barbecue in our neck of the woods. No ten below zero here to keep our tootsies in the house. So the party never stops. And have you tried fresh dolphin with mango chutney with a sprig of mint to keep the festive flavor alive? Well if you haven’t I dare say your traditions need a fixin. And who said key lime pie wasn’t green enough for the Christmas spirit? Quite delicious and always a family favorite.
I could go on but you get the idea, Christmas is wonderful despite where you may reside on this planet of ours. In fact, I hope to learn Christmas traditions of many areas of the globe, not just here in the good old south. But I know that in my book, moonlit nights on the beach with a single ball hanging from that lone palm frond with a sandman and his carrot nose will always mean Christmas to me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Letter Concerning Florida Senate Bill 6 -Teacher Pay Based on Student Performance

My Dearest Legislators,

I’d like to invite you to spend some time in my world for a little while. It’s really quite fascinating and I’m sure you’d love it if you just got to spend a few moments with me. Meet little Emerald. She has repeated the second grade twice. I’ve waited two years for her to get tested for some sort of intervention help but she is on the “waiting list” due to budget cuts. After six months of trying hundreds of strategies I finally got her to spell the word cat without help. She was very proud of that accomplishment and gave me tons of hugs and smiles. I call her mom weekly and visit her at her job cutting fruit at a local grocery store. After at least a half a dozen conferences, the latest in March I asked mom, “Why after eight months of school has she never turned in any homework?” Mom’s answer was, “We’ve been busy.” Oh I’m sorry mom; I didn’t mean to intrude on how you choose to raise your precious angel. I won’t bother you again.

My salary is now dependent on Emerald.

And I’d love for you to meet Ronald. In the months we have been together, I have never once seen him smile, not even once. When he’s not on his medication which is quite frequent, he has psychotic episodes where he tries to stab other children with scissors or threatens to kill himself. He doesn’t like class work because he’d rather be at home playing on the computer. He does love science experiments however. So I try to do them frequently. I had to put them on hold last month because I was mandated to “teach to the test” and do all the SAT prep, Test Ready, and any FCAT resources the school could get their hands on. That made Ronald mad. He told me that the books were boring and he wished he were dead. He refused to even make one pencil mark. On the real test, he scribbled any bubbles just to be done. He didn’t actually read it, even though he can read because he wanted to control the situation. Ronald is eight years old.

My salary is now dependent on Ronald.

Oh and Danny, how I love Danny. Danny was in a head on collision the day before FCAT. It left his brain swollen, his body semi-paralyzed and he was put in an induced coma to try to save his life. I visited him in the hospital, held his mom’s hand and cried with her. Many of his friends came by to just see if their dear friend would make it. The next day, the class sat stunned while the FCAT was being passed out. Gigi was crying, Kassie was inconsolable. Their hearts were aching. They certainly were not at their best that day.

My salary is now dependent on Danny and his friends. (And yes, a year later he made an almost full recovery; thanks for asking.)

Then there’s Monica. She arrived from Guatemala just last week. She’s never spoken English in her life. She only knows her aunt and uncle who she came to live with when her mom died last month. Their English is not much better. They are well meaning, hard working people that will give lots of love and support to Monica but they are limited in what they can do to help her succeed in school. I hope that in a year or two she may actually learn English. But we don’t have time for that now. She has to take her FCAT even though she’s never seen the English language on the printed page.

My salary is now dependent on Monica.

I’d love to let you spend some time with even more of my students. I have had hundreds of students over the years with stories similar to the above. I could tell you true stories of self mutilation, drug addicted parents, parents who prostitute their children for money, illiterate parents, parents that have told me they hate their kids, kids with schizophrenia, autism, mental challenges, blindness, kids’ on oxygen just to be able to walk to the bathroom, various psychotic illnesses, I’ve had them all and I’ve done my best to be their teacher. But now, how am I thanked for taking on the task of helping to raise the most challenging in society? I’m not thanked. I’m criticized, I’m degraded. I’m made to feel as if I am the problem, not the solution. And now, even though many of these obstacles are insurmountable, I must be the scapegoat for when they are not completely successful in life. Thanks a bunch. So tell me, who on earth would put up with this when my job is eliminated for insufficient progress? Hey, maybe you can do it. Maybe you can deal with these issues day after day. Maybe you can “show me” just how it should be done. And no, I won’t say thank you, or reward you with a decent salary or anything like that. I’ll just sick the community on you so you can be “public enemy number one” when you try like heck to get these kids to pass a once a year test. Would you do that for me? Would you spend some time in my world? Wait until there’s no one left who will deal with “these” kids. Then what? What do you say then? Mission accomplished? Ok, if that’s what you want. I guess I should just be grateful for this latest slap in the face. I’ll just be quiet now and go sit in my hole. Legislators know best. So have a nice day.